Album: Into the Serpent’s Den
Genre: Heavy metal
Label: Iron Shield Records
Modern heavy metallers Axevyper released their third full-length album this year, and based on what people had been saying about this release, I decided to check it out. And you know, I’m glad I did. The members of Axevyper have been active in plenty of other bands, so they’re no strangers to heavy metal, and this album is yet another demonstration that heavy metal is alive and well, no matter how hard it may be to find compared to other more popular stuff.
This album is first-order, unabashed classic Maiden worship. Everything from the punchy and galloping bass lines to the slow and melodic acoustic intros which build into those heavy riffs that defined that classic sound, Axevyper wear their influences on their sleeves. Truthfully, they are a good bit heavier than Iron Maiden, and a good bit faster too, but not quite enough to pull off a full-on speed metal sound. They have plenty of other influences other than those classic British metallers, but it certainly seems that they were one of their bigger influences. Even so, there are plenty of things they don’t share with them that it makes it hardly fair to categorise them as some sort of clone.
The vocalist certainly has his own voice, but to be honest on the longer, more epic pieces he certainly channels old Bruce quite a bit. But it’s precisely on these two songs, “The Adventurer” and “Beyond the Gates of the Silver Key” that Axvyper seem to accomplish their best musical statements. They seem more focused, more consistent, and the songs are simply far better delivered because of this. On songs like “Under the Pressure” there is a seemingly purposefully disjointed execution in spots where I can’t tell if I’m listening to heavy metal or some progressive experimentation.
I am a little bit mystified with my lack of enthusiasm for this album. I mean, with all the right pieces apparently in place, I am curious as to why the album doesn’t deliver anything super memorable to me on the whole. If I had to pin down a reason it seems to be that there isn’t enough time spent on developing each musical concept. As such, what I end up experiencing is what sound like a series of well-executed and reasonably composed musical ideas that never get enough exposure to really sink in like a lot of the classics do.
I should emphasise completely, however, that this is far from a bad album. It isn’t in any sense. The only thing I can muster is that it did less for me than I thought it should. If you like heavy metal in the vain of the faster and more epic Maiden pieces, you should check out those highlight tracks at the very least, and all of the second side if you have the chance.